Over the summer, the DETR, SEPA and the Environment Agency have released a number of new publications, while new products to support phase 1 risk assessments have also been launched from both the major information providers in the UK market.
The Guidelines for environmental risk assessment and management (DETR 2000) builds on the Guide to risk assessment and risk management for environmental protection (DoE 1995). The principal reason for the revision was to recognise the established position now held by risk assessment in managing environmental risk and to highlight the increased importance of risk communication and public involvement in decision making.
The document provides an over-arching framework for the development of functional risk assessment guidance - some of which has already been published. The intention is to achieve consensus on terminology and approach in environmental risk assessment.
The guidance recognises that sustainable development requires wide stakeholder participation in decision making and it is hoped that specific guidance on how to achieve this for contaminated land remediation is available shortly.
The Environment Agency and the NHBC have published Guidance for the safe development of housing on land affected by contamination. In his foreword, the agency's chief scientist states the report has been published to 'promote the adoption of good practice in the identification, investigation, assessment and remedial treatment of land affected by contamination', to 'ensure that development for housing can be undertaken safely and with confidence that no unacceptable risks remain'.
In the absence of the 'Model Procedures' this document represents the most up to date summary of the state of the art in risk based approaches to managing land contamination - albeit specifically for housing. Its nine-step approach will allow both consultants and regulators to have confidence that the correct effort is being applied and should also ensure that corners are not cut in an attempt to save analytical or investigation costs.
Appendix 1: Key contaminants is a welcome distillation of the industry profiles and will provide regulators with a ready checklist to assess whether or not a report has covered all the most common bases. Appendix 4 expands on the properties of 38 key contaminants. The omission in Appendix 2 of any reference to the UK's only published human health exposure assessment model (SNIFFER 2000) is a great shame given the ongoing delays in the release of CLEA and the prominence therefore given to non-UK models.
The summary of remedial treatment methods in Appendices 6 and 7 will be welcome by many in the housing industry and should improve consideration of the wide range of options available to bring land to a suitable condition.
A sensitivity analysis of the SNIFFER Framework has been published by SEPA (2000) and is available for download from www.sepa.org.uk and from www.lqm.co.uk.
The report explores the influence on pathwayspecific and integrated numeric target concentrations of reasonable variability in input parameters.
This should allow users to prioritise information gathering efforts on particular sites to those parameters likely to have the most significant impact on the target concentrations.
Landmark has launched a CD version of its Site Check product which allows users to produce maps from their desktops (www.landmark-information.co.uk).
SiteScope has extended its web-based homecheck service to professional users (www.sitescope.co.uk).
Finally, the Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations (Scottish Executive 2000), came into force on 14 July. The regulations make provision for certain aspects of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act for the remediation of contaminated land.
The regulations cover the identification of special sites, the content and serving of remediation notices, provisions for compensation where access to land is required to secure remediation, provisions for appeals against remediation notices and the details of information to be entered on the register to be maintained by Local Authorities or, for special sites, SEPA.
Paul Nathanail is course director of the MSc Contaminated Land Management at the University of Nottingham, email: ground. firstname.lastname@example.org